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Free Workout Plan Builds Muscle & Fitness Fast!

Build Muscle Workout Plan

If you want to build muscle in the shortest space of time, you’re going to want to implement this workout plan.

The program I illustrate for you guys here will help you achieve your goal of maximum muscle in minimum time. :)

STOP! This routine has been totally revised and improved! Please go here to learn about the amazingly effective THT Weight Training Program. Alternatively, enter your details in the sidebar to get a free book which will explain it all to you.


The Fundamentals

I base this workout plan on 2 fundamental principles of muscle building:

  1. The anabolic / optimum rep range of 8-12 reps
  2. Seeking Progressive Overload each and every workout

If you’re a regular bodybuilder and you’re no longer getting the results you once did, I’ll wager that your progress halted once you started complicating things.

  1. You listened to some gym rat who carries more fat than muscle
  2. you mistakenly took advice from some rag of a magazine that has more ads than articles
  3. you copied a roid-head’s routine (including the sloppy form) thinking that you’d get similar results.

Whatever your story is, now is the time to come back to sanity. Working in the 8-12 rep range and ensuring progressive overload every workout (or as close as possible) is the way to pack on new slabs of muscle.

On the other hand, maybe you never even got started because of all the conflicting advice. Let’s cut through all the noise and get started on the road to building some serious muscle!

A few years ago, I fell for all the gimmicks and seriously stunted my gains. Are any of these familiar?

  1. Supersets
  2. Forced Reps
  3. Very Low Reps (2 – 5)
  4. Very Slow Reps (4 seconds up, 4 seconds down if not more!)

Yep, I was stupid! Growth stopped and I actually had to stop for a while due to an arm injury, which I blame on crap form with weights that were too heavy for me. I got fed up, did some research and got back to basics; if you identify with my story, you should too.

How to use this Workout Plan

I have long been a believer in training 1 muscle group just once a week. I’m aware of the advice given to hard-gainers that they should stick to full-body workouts three times a week but I’m not buying it.
Why not?
Because I’m a hard-gainer by nature and I’ve tried both systems; workout plans that train each body part once a week win hands-down in my opinion.

Some days I train one body-part and some days I train two, but never any more than that. The workout plan detailed here is my advice to help you build muscle, but it’s also an exact replica of my own current workout plan.

It has been designed to provide maximum muscle growth while at the same time keeping workout times to a minimum. You should never be going over 12 reps and sets are kept to a minimum too.
Because natural bodybuilders must avoid overtraining at all costs. You must stimulate your muscles to their maximum in the minimum time possible; that’s what this workout plan does. “Rip up those muscles quickly then get the hell outta there and relax” is my motto.

The 8 Anabolic Workout Plan Commandments

  1. Thou shalt workout each body part once a week
  2. Thou shalt workout 5 times a week (pick the days that suit you)
  3. Thine workouts shall never last more than 45 minutes
  4. Thou shalt stay within the optimum muscle-building rep range of 8-12
  5. Thou shalt lift for 1-2 seconds and lower for 2 seconds per rep
  6. Thou shalt seek Progressive Overload every week (you need to keep written logs of your workout progress!)
  7. Thou shalt take 1.5 to 2 minutes rest between sets
  8. Thou shalt perform at least 6 sets, and at most 9 sets for each muscle group

You can choose the days you would like to workout on; I like Monday to Friday with a break at the weekend. You can also vary the muscle groups to combine on any given day. For example, at the moment I like to work my chest and triceps on the same day but you can choose to hit your abs and chest on the same day instead.

However, you must prioritize your workouts like this:

On days when you are working out 2 body parts, work the body part you would like most growth in first. This is because the second body part will have become slightly fatigued and will not perform to its full potential.

Give priority body parts a day of their own. So, if your chest is lagging, work it separately on a day of its own. Either this or, at least, work them first before a body part you consider less important at this time.

On single body-part days, do the full nine sets

Always do one warm-up set before each body part. Your warm-up set should be 50% of the weight that you will use for your first real set; perform 12-15 reps and rest for 1.5 to 2 minutes before the first set.

Now let’s get down to the actual program

Monday – Shoulders

  1. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  2. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  3. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  4. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  5. Flies (Dumbbell Lateral Raise)
  6. Flies
  7. Flies
  8. Dumbbell Front Raises
  9. Dumbbell Front Raises

Comments: Standing overhead dumbbell presses are the best overall exercise for shoulders. They hit all heads of the shoulder and you can feel the difference between these and sitting dumbbell presses. With the seated version, you have a tendency to allow your butt to slip forward and involve more of your pecs in the movement; that’s why you can usually push more weight with the seated version. However, if you really want to build up your shoulders, stick to standing dumbbell presses.

Flies are so important for giving width to your body. When someone is looking at you head-on, it’s this part of the shoulder that stands out most, you’ll look broad, don’t skip on these. Allow your arms to be bent slightly throughout the movement. Make sure your shoulders are doing the work, not your arms.

Front raises. An excellent exercise for overall shoulder development but especially the front head. 2 sets only because the front head will also get stimulated from your chest workout.

Tuesday – Back & Abs

Abs (With the aid of a Sit-Up Bench)

  1. Weighted Decline Sit-Ups
  2. Weighted Decline Sit-Ups
  3. Weighted Decline Sit-Ups
  4. Weighted Crunch
  5. Weighted Crunch
  6. Weighted Crunch


  1. Bent Over Barbell Rows
  2. Bent Over Barbell Rows
  3. Bent Over Barbell Rows
  4. Deadlifts
  5. Deadlifts
  6. Deadlifts


Comments: Abs are like any other muscle, they need weighted resistence in order to grow. 100’s of sit-ups in a row does not encourage any real growth no matter what your gym instructor says. For abs I advise a slight variation in that the rep range increases from 8-12 reps to 8-16; simply because ab exercises are meant to be performed slowly and this slightly higher rep range encourages good form because you’ll have to use a lighter weight. Remember, building abs is not a race, take it slow! (2 seconds up, 2 seconds down).

For both the sit-ups and crunches I recommend you hold the movement at the top for a second. Just contract your abs and hold them for a second before the negative part of the repetition.

My back isn’t one of my main focus points so 6 sets is fine. 2 simple exercises but when performed correctly provide great muscle stimulation and overload. On the barbell rows ensure that the bar comes up and touches your lower chest; if you have to decrease the weight to accomplish this, do so. Keep your back straight throughout the whole movement. Remember real bodybuilders feel the muscle, not the weight. If you’re natural you don’t have the luxury of getting great results with sloppy form.

Getting the form right on deadlifts is crucial if you want to avoid injury. This ‘deadlifts video tutorial‘ will walk you through how to execute this move correctly. I highly recommend you check it out.

Wednesday – Biceps

  1. Standing Dumbbell Bicep Curls (Alternate)
  2. Standing Dumbbell Curls
  3. Standing Dumbbell Curls
  4. EZ Bar Curl
  5. EZ Bar Curl
  6. EZ Bar Curl
  7. Incline Dumbbell Curls
  8. Incline Dumbbell Curls
  9. Incline Dumbbell Curls

Comments: I really like to focus on my biceps so I give them a day of their own. Dumbbell curls should be at the heart of your bicep routine. I perform these by alternating reps on each arm i.e. the first rep I perform with my right arm only while my left stays stationary. On completion of that rep I keep my right arm stationary and lift with my left arm; repeat as necessary.

I find it best to keep my palms facing outward right from the beginning of the movement. Others advise holding the dumbbell in a hammer-curl style at the bottom of the movement and twisting around on the concentric part of the movement. I find this doesn’t actually place enough stress on the actual bicep at the hardest part of the lift (where most strength is gained). Also I feel the twisting can lead to injury.

You can stick with regular barbell curls instead of EZ bar curls if you prefer. The reason I like using the EZ bar is that while the dumbbell curls hit my bicep head at a 90 degree angle, this stimulates the muscle from a slightly different angle and helps vary the workout.

Lastly, my secret bicep weapon! Not enough people perform incline dumbbell curls! A FULL range of motion is critical here. When your back is in an incline position and your arms are hanging straight by your sides, the range of motion is greatly increased compared with a regular dumbbell curl. In this position the beginning of the lift is actually perform from a starting position behind the back as opposed to parallel with it. This is great but be warned; you’ll have to use a much lighter weight for this than regular dumbbell curls. You’ll feel the difference with these, a great muscle building exercise!

Thursday – Triceps & Chest


  1. Decline Tricep Extensions
  2. Decline Tricep Extensions
  3. Decline Tricep Extensions
  4. Tricep Cable Push Downs
  5. Tricep Cable Push Downs
  6. Tricep Cable Push Downs


  1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  3. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  4. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
  5. Flat Dumbbell Flies
  6. Flat Dumbbell Flies

Comments: Whichever of these 2 body parts you want most growth in goes first. I’m very pleased with my chest and so I hit my triceps first.

For tricep extensions I like to bring the dumbbells down behind my head for the starting position. I feel this fully stimulates the muscle more. For the cable pushdowns I start about shoulder height and push right down to the bottom of the movement. These 2 exercises alone will allow for a full tricep workout.

It is very important to do a full range of motion for stimulating the chest. Oftentimes you’ll see pro-bodybuilders working their chest with poor form but again, you’re natural, you don’t have that luxury. For example, on the flies, lower your arms as far as you can until you feel a real stretch right across your pecs. Keep your arms slightly bent throughout and raise the dumbbells again to the top of the movement. Flies are great for adding real width to your chest! Remember to lower the weight slowly, moving slightly faster on the concentric part.

For both incline and flat dumbbell bench press, lower the weight slowly (2 seconds) so that you are controlling the weight. Lower until you feel a stretch across your pecs to ensure full range of motion.

Friday – Legs

  1. Barbell Squats
  2. Barbell Squats
  3. Barbell Squats
  4. Leg Press
  5. Leg Press
  6. Leg Press

Comments: 6 sets only. With proper form six sets are easily enough to blast your legs for maximum growth. My confession is that because I workout in my home gym and don’t have a leg press machine, I simply do six sets of squats. Believe me, I am crippled for a couple of days afterwards! Squats are the absolute best exercise for your legs (and also your ass!). Do not avoid them in favor of leg extensions or some other isolation exercise. Yes guys, they hurt like a bitch, but that’s because they work.

Leg Presses are excellent and I do recommend them if you have access to a machine; I’ll fork out for one some day!

Take this workout plan and implement it! Take some action and report back to me on your results. I have every confidence that you’ll build more muscle on this plan in one month if you really obey the ‘8 Anabolic Workout Plan Commandments.’ Don’t always look for what’s new and sexy, practice the fundamentals every day to achieve mastery!

Enjoy Your New Body!

Mark McManus

Related Post

Mark McManus
Mark McManus
Mark is now available for 1-on-1 consultations to help you take your results to the next level. Click here for more details.
Mark McManus is a trainer & author from Ireland. His work has been featured in major publications all over the world. He is the creator of the free growth-promoting workout Targeted Hypertrophy Training' (THT) and author of the NEW fat-torching system Total Six Pack Abs.
He has also created the BREAKTHROUGH arm and chest maximizer programs The Arms Blast' and 'Chest Blast' workouts.
And if you're a fan of delicious high-protein recipes to fuel your muscle growth, check out his cook book 'Buff Baking' here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Caveman December 4, 2007, 1:45 am

    Great workout plan. I just did 3 sets of Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Presses after reading this at home. Good stuff.

    You really seem to like dumbbells over barbells and I think I can feel why. I haven’t been logging anything. It sounds like a great idea, gonna have to get a notebook. Really great post.

  • admin December 4, 2007, 6:09 am

    Thanks Caveman. I know what you mean, you get motivated just by reading about working out sometimes!
    Yeah I love dumbbells but for chest I’ll switch to barbells every 2 – 3 months or so.
    Definitely get a notebook, you need to know that you’re progressing every single week.

  • DavidRM December 4, 2007, 11:01 pm


    Nice. I recently started looking around for free weights and information about workout plans. My goals don’t include full-on bodybuilding, more trimming down and dropping a few of my accumulated “approaching 40” pounds.

    I’m curious: You give squats as a substitute for a leg press. Are there any dumbell/barbell substitutes for the lat pull downs or tricep cable push downs?

    I can’t imagine what those would be, but I wanted to ask. Because I’m trying to put together a simple in-home “gym”. I was hoping to avoid anything too expensive or complicated.



  • admin December 5, 2007, 5:37 pm

    Hi David.

    A good substitute to Lat Pull Downs would be Pull Ups. If you can hang from a bar with a wide overhand grip and pull yourself up, simple and very effective.

    For triceps try dumbbell kickbacks, close grip bench press, or dips on the edge of a chair of bench.

    You’re right, keep things simple – it’s actually the best way to build muscle and get in shape.



  • Joe December 6, 2007, 6:48 am

    Hi Mark,

    Near complete beginner here. I’ve been looking over this regimine and think I may give it a try. Here’s the requisite stupid question. How long of a rest do you take between sets? Also, how do you spend that time? Stretching? Sitting? Walking?

    Thanks, Joe

  • admin December 6, 2007, 7:03 am

    Hi Joe. No problem, I love helping beginners in any way I can.
    See point 7 of the 8 commandments – 1.5 to 2minutes rest between sets, I take the full 2 minutes most often.
    I just log how many reps I just got and start my stopwatch. I basically stand around and let the time go down. I always take a lok at last weeks reps for the coming set so I can prepare myself mentally to aim for one higher.
    Hope that helps.

  • Josh December 15, 2007, 6:43 pm

    This plan is amazing. I’ve only been using it a couple days but I can feel the difference already. I hadn’t lifted since I had a hernia in 2005 and it feels great to be back at it. I do have one question though. I’m naturally a little guy, I’m 69 inches tall and currently weigh only 140 lbs. Since this is my first week back at lifting for so long I’m doing more an assessment to see where I am physically. But what about strength building exercises? Will this workout be fine with gaining mass and keeping it cut or should I emplement a strength building routine in with my workout. I’m also currently taking Aplodan and drinking protien shakes as well. I drink one shake in the morning, one before my workout, one after, and one before bed. They are 23 grams a piece. Thanks for the great article and advise though. I’m sure you’ll be hearing my results soon.

  • Brent December 17, 2007, 2:21 pm

    I can’t wait to try your workout routine. I have been working out for about a year now and have not seen many gains, primarily due to protein deficiency. I am now seeing bulk in my shoulders and arms. However, my main goal is to bulk up my chest. On the day that you combined the triceps with the chest, I would like to remove the triceps and add it to the biceps day. What extra chest exercise would you suggest for me to add on the chest day? Thank you and once again, great and well organized plan.

  • admin December 17, 2007, 2:38 pm

    Hi Brent, thanks for your comment.
    Good to see you prioritizing a body part, that’s how to do it!
    Ok, do 9 sets which means you have 3 extra sets to squeeze in here.
    One option is to do 2 decline dumbbell bench press (if you have access to a declining bench) after the flats and add another set of flies.
    If you want to focus on your upper chest try 4 x incline dumbbell bench press and again, add another set of flies at the end.
    For overall development just add one more set of each so that’s 3 sets of incline dumbbell bench press, 3 sets of flat dumbbell bench press and 3 sets of flat dumbbell flies.
    On the flies, perform the negative part of the rep slowly keeping your arms slightly bent and allow your arms to come down as far as they can, you’ll feel a real stretch, use a light weight. Prepare for sore pecs for a couple of days!
    Hope that helps. Let me know how you get on.

  • Quin December 21, 2007, 12:39 pm

    I absoloutley (sp) LOVE this workout plan, ive been doint this for 2 weeks now and have already noticed gains in both arms and shoulders and abs – im a bit of a pain lover so i workout hard only to be in heaven afterward..
    Unfortunatly my wrist-forearms are what i am looking to improve further, do u have any other links/tips/exercises i can perform to increase the size of them too?
    Awesome workout plan dude!!
    So glad i came across this.. cheers for any replies/advice, Q.

  • admin December 21, 2007, 4:49 pm

    Hi Quin, thanks for the comments. Yes the MuscleHack 8-12 | 6-9 program is great and I’m glad you appreciate it.
    Coming soon, I will be giving away a free ebook here with both workout info and diet information, the whole enchilada, free of charge so stay tuned.
    Ok, firstly nice pic myspace pic, if you add some size to that frame you’ll have an awesome physique so keep at it man. (Also nice to see someone from the UK finally make it to my site)
    I don’t focus on forearms specifically; they act as stabilizers for my other body parts and get hit indirectly.
    However, the best thing to do is palms-down and palms-up wrist curls.
    Get a light dumbbell and lay your forearm on a bench so that your hand hangs of the edge of it and your palm faces up. Now curl the dumbbell up and down (full range of motion). Move ONLY your wrist, not your arm at all. Again 8-12 reps is best.
    This is great for your wrists as well. However, bear in mind that wrist size is pretty much set, but thin wrists act as a great taper for the rest of your arm so don’t sweat it; I have naturally-thin wrists too.
    Hope that helps,

  • Quin December 21, 2007, 5:20 pm

    Awesome dude, thanks for the quick reply, il keep at it bro dont worry 😉
    All the best n keep up the good work :)

  • Joe December 25, 2007, 6:00 pm


    I’m 29 and been a serious lifter since I was about 18. My measurements currently stand at: 69″ tall Chest: 47″ Arms:17″
    Waist: 37″ Thighs: 27 Calf: 16.5″ and weight 207 with a Body fat of 12.9%. This seems to be my plateau and really haven’t changed much in the last 6months. My biggest goal has been lowering my Body fat and gaining muscle weight staying as lean as possible. I currently train for about 90-120mins in the gym training one body part 5 days a week and doing cardio 6 days 20-30mins. My wife thinks I’m obsessed with my goal of gaining muscle and losing fat especially with all the time I spend in the gym, read online and in magazines. I like hearing that your in and out in less than an hour. I’m really looking forward to using your training and nutrition guidance to hopefully overcome my plateau and reach my goals. Your information and wisdom on this site is something everyone remotely interested in becoming physically fit needs to read. Thanks for all the Great Info.

    SGT Williams, Joe
    U.S. Army

  • Mark McManus December 26, 2007, 12:47 pm

    SGT Williams,

    Thanks for your kind comments. Your 1.5 – 2 hour gym sessions are releasing catabolic hormones which are obviously counter-productive. Keep to less than an hour and preferably less than 45 minutes. You must make every set count though. Aim for progressive overload with every single set. Take your post-workout shake immediately thereafter.
    When you couple this with the MuscleHack Anabolic Nutrition Strategy (which releases anabolic hormones) I’m sure you’ll break through your plateau.
    Hope that helps,

  • Joe December 30, 2007, 10:50 pm

    I noticed that in you workout plan above you do not train calves or traps. What would you recommend if someone wants to train those muscles too? For Calves I just added 3 sets of seated calf raises to the leg workout but for traps I usually train them with shoulders but you listed 9 sets for shoulders. Should I just add some shrugs to that or train them on a different day?
    SGT Williams, Joe
    U.S. ARMY

  • Mark McManus December 30, 2007, 10:59 pm

    you’re right, I don’t prioritize those muscles because they don’t fit into the look I want for my body. Also they get indirectly stimulated anyway.

    Seated Calf Raises are excellent, good choice.
    For Shoulders, I would do one less set of Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Presses and one less set of Flies and and 2 sets at the end of Upright Barbell Rows for traps.
    Shrugs are good too, try one set of each and see which one gives you better muscle stimulation.
    Hope that helps,

  • Joe December 31, 2007, 1:15 am

    Thanks for the info. I’ll probably go with the upright rows over shrugs only because for me to keep in the 8-12 rep range my gym doesn’t have enough weight. they do have 150lb DB but I can easily do shrugs slowly and hold at the peak for 2secs or more for 15reps or more. I really would like more trap development since I’ve always been able to lift a ton of weight but never had the development of some of the people I’ve seen doing to same weight. If there’s anything else you can recommend I like all advice that will help me achieve my fitness goals.
    This site is full of such good info that I only wish I discovered it sooner. Keep up the good work.
    SGT Williams, Joe
    U.S. ARMY

  • Tommy January 20, 2008, 7:10 pm

    I’m 18 and just recently began to get serious into getting into shape and building some muscle, im 6’2″ and want a more solid structure. Do you think duel workouts would hurt more than benefit me, such as one in the morning and in the afternoon. Another question i had refered to running, for the past few weeks ive been running 1-2 miles pretty much every night to try and cut down some fat, do you think this is hindering anything for me.

  • Mark McManus January 20, 2008, 7:55 pm

    Hi Tommy,
    Congratulations on your choice to transform your body.
    Yes, I think dual workouts would do more harm than good. The only people getting away with this are steroid-users because steroids speed-up the recovery process. As a natural, your body needs more rest time.
    I would leave the cardio if your goal right now is to put on some muscle. Pick one goal and go for it. If you want to gain muscle, you don’t need to be doing cardio.
    If you’re trying to accomplish both goals (building muscle and losing fat) at the same time, you’ll either accomplish neither or (if you’ve great genetics) get there very slowly.
    While it is possible for some people to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously with the diet I recommend; it’s preferable to pick goal and focus solely on that.
    Hope that helps,

  • Alex January 21, 2008, 10:57 pm

    Hi, im looking to increase muscle mass on upper body mainly chest, bicpes and triceps but obviously need to do other areas so i dont look out of shape. im 5ft 10 and weigh about 9 & half stone. Im trying to eat the correct diet and get as much protein as possible. i was wondering if you recommend creatine to aid my goal? I dont have a lot of muscle mass on my chest and this is my main priority, if i follow your programme and im hurting after each session how long would it rougly take to gain an inch or two of muscle? appreciate any more help you can offer because im really dedicated. Thanks

  • Mark McManus January 22, 2008, 9:24 pm

    Hi Alex, welcome and thanks for the question.

    Yes, creatine is always to be recommended for those seeking to build muscle mass.

    I understand you mean add an inch to your arm? If you’re a beginner this can happen relatively quickly. That means 2 months could produce the desired result.

    Keep eating Alex and please use good form when working out. As you are a beginner, every workout should be hurting for a day or so afterwards. Don’t worry, it’s worth it in the end!

    Stay Motivated!

  • alex January 26, 2008, 7:17 pm

    Hi again, just wondered if you have heard of mass-tech and cell-tech? they are expensive but i heard they work really well alongside hard training. do you know anything about these products?

  • Mark McManus January 26, 2008, 7:46 pm

    One’s a creatine transporter and the other is a weight-gainer. You’ll gain weight but most of it will be fat.
    Their transporter is full of sugar that will make you fat, and you don’t need it.
    The weight gainer contains maltodextrin, a carb that is absorbed as quickly as glucose.
    All these things are expensive junk.
    If you need calories quick Alex, how about a shake made with protein powder, heavy cream, water and natural peanut butter? That’s a high protein, high-calorie protein shake that allows you to stay on your carb limit during the week.
    Also, check out the video I put into the vegetarian post recently that shows how to make home-made protein bars that you can take with you on-the-go.
    Save your money, stay lean and build mean muscle mass.

  • Cynde March 1, 2008, 12:44 am

    I am a personal trainer with NASM. Just like you said in your notes listed above I am so overwhelmed with all the bull and just want to get back to the basics. Thanks
    This is what I needed.

  • Shane March 9, 2008, 12:11 pm

    This workout plan works. Thanks Mark!
    I’ve been using it now for a couple of months but wanted to reserve judgment on it until I gave it a fair chance. I really agree now on the 8-12 reps thing and pushing for increased resistance all the time. I’ve made visible gains and others have noticed my results too. Thanks.

  • Mark McManus March 9, 2008, 12:18 pm

    Thanks Shane, I appreciate your comment.
    Yes this workout plan works. It’s based on sound bodybuilding principles, no hype, no BS, just muscle growth.
    To your continued success!

  • DavidRM March 21, 2008, 1:05 am

    I just wanted to stop back by and say, “Thanks, Mark!”

    I’ve been following this workout plan since New Years (with a couple weeks lost due to illness), and I couldn’t be happier. My weight is about the same as it was when I started, but my middle is thinner and I’m looking much better all over.

    As I’ve learned more about the different types of lifting, I’ve grown to appreciate how complete this workout plan is.

    Like you suggested, I re-arranged the workout to match my own priorities. And I subbed in a few at-home replacements for things like lat pull downs.

    The most important piece of the puzzle, though, came as a result of being sick. Unable to work out, I finally sat down and created a simple chart so I could keep track of my progress. I have no doubt that my first day of using that chart six weeks ago is when I really started to improve.

    Being able to see what I did last week, and striving to do better this week, has been the key.

    So, again: Thanks!


  • Mark McManus March 22, 2008, 4:43 pm

    Hi again David!
    I’m really pleased about your success.
    I’m also really intrigued about this chart. Do you mean a program on your computer? That sounds really useful!
    I imagine that it would be very motivational to be able to visually trace your success! Let me know more about it.
    PS – you’re more than welcome :)

  • Greg March 24, 2008, 3:50 am

    Boy am I glad I found this website, i’ve been fed up trying to find a workout program.Everything rings true when I read your posts. And you are spot on about supplements. My roomate keeps on buying all these (nano vapor, cell-tech hardcore) and he is not getting any results because he has a poor diet and a bad workout plan. I need to direct him hear so he can hear the truth. Thanks for the advice, I am excited to try your workout program and the anabolic diet. One Question, I am 5’10 and 140 lbs and I am going to be on the diet and I was wondering if I should add another day of carb uptake?

  • Mark McManus March 24, 2008, 8:54 am

    Hi Greg,
    I had a friend like that once too. Always wasting his money but quite happy to miss a workout or go drinking for 2 days straight – bizarre.
    Anyway, yes a mid-week carb-up is a good option for ectomorphic types e.g. Wednesday 5pm till bedtime. Start low-carbing again on Thursday morning.

  • DavidRM March 27, 2008, 6:47 pm


    My chart is nothing to brag about it. It’s just a chart I created in Excel. Down the left side I have each day’s sets listed. Across the top is the dates for the week. One week is a vertical column that I fill out top to bottom.

    I made it fit a single 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper so I can print it out. I have it on a clipboard I keep near my weight set. Like you suggest, I scribble in the weight and reps for each set, right after I finish the set. (Then I huff and puff and sip on water for a minute or two before the next set. 😉 )

    One sheet tracks about 10 weeks. I actually created a new chart for starting next week. Not because the old one was full, but because I decided I need to put more work into my chest. So I added 2 sets of decline bench presses to my Wednesday’s (Chest & Triceps day) and printed out the new chart for next week.

    I haven’t put much thought into a software solution, yet. The paper and clibpoard approach is working well for me, currently. Maybe this summer, though, when the amount of weight of I’m lifting seems worthy of graphical tracking, I’ll give it some pondering. =)

    I do keep a “master list” my weight training plan in The Journal ( http://www.davidrm.com/thejournal/ ), though. I just don’t track my progress in there yet.


  • Tosh April 1, 2008, 2:49 pm

    Hi Mark,

    As you’ve heard a 1000 times; great program which cuts through the hype. I have one question though; how and where do I fit cardio into it, what frequency and how much would be enough?

  • Del April 3, 2008, 5:18 pm


    I want to say thank you for the awesome information. I’m so excited I registered on your website with all 3 of my email accounts to ensure I get your updates. There’s a guy I network with that does an online personal training thing, but it’s $125.00 US and I don’t know exactly what I’d be getting.
    I came across your website today (THANK GOODNESS) searching for workout plans. I’ve prayed for answers and I feel I’ve found the answer to my workout needs here on your website. I normally lose motivation after working out so long by myself, but I don’t think it’ll be like that anymore. I have my personal fitness goals, but I also have my military fitness goals as well.

    I just turned 27 years old in March and I’ve been serious thus far about getting back into better shape. My measurements currently stand at: 73″ tall Waist: 38″ and weight 218 with a Body fat of 23%. My problem is, I gain weight like a WOMAN, (I’m serious when I tell you this). I have a slim upper body and I gain all of my weight in the legs, butt and abdominal areas. My biggest goal has been lowering my body fat, toning my legs, abs, gaining muscle weight, building up my upper body and staying as lean as possible. I don’t have a gym membership, but I do have 2 fitness centers to use (one at work and one at home) I’m allowed and hour a day to work out at work. Is this the right workout for me? I want to tell you, your information and insight on this website is something I greatly appreciate. Thanks for all the awesome Info.


  • Mark McManus April 3, 2008, 6:19 pm

    @andre. Try to increase by at least one rep on EVERY set. The reps should always stay between 8-12 and the weight will probably have to decrease at each successive set to make sure you achieve this.
    @ Tosh. Only perform cardio if your main priority is to lose fat. Do HIIT directly after your workout. If you are focusing on building muscle I think it’s best to give the cardio a miss.
    @ Del. Thanks for your kind words about this workout plan. I definitely think this workout is right for you. I think you should factor in some HIIT cardio too after your workouts – start at 2 or 3 sessions a week. I’m glad you like MuscleHack.
    PS – I turn 27 in a few days too 😉 Glad you’ve decided to take control of your body.

  • Del April 3, 2008, 6:40 pm


    You’re welcome, I have to give credit where credit is due. Thank you for your reply, I definately appreciate your advice and will be starting the workout soon. I’m definately taking control of my body mentally and physically. That’s awesome you’re turning 27 in a few days. If I don’t get to tell you the day of, I’ll tell you now “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” =). I’ll keep you posted on my progress. What’s HIIT cardio?


  • Del April 3, 2008, 7:03 pm

    ps…you don’t have to answer the HIIT cardio question. I figured it out for myself…hehe, it’s High Intensity Cardio”

  • Rich April 22, 2008, 7:54 pm

    Mark, I have been using your workout for two weeks now and have already noticed some changes. Im 19, 6’1″, 206 lbs. Mostly i im trying to exchange the fat on my body for muscle, and i can see after a few months of this workout, how it will most likely happen. I went vegan about two months ago, and have noticed how easy it is to get in shape quickly with the right diet (dont worry, i get enough of all my proteins, amino acids, vitamins, etc.) I was wondering though if there was anything i can do do to specifically target my lower abs, as well as that area immediately below your pecs and right above your abs. Im going for a completely flat torso… nothing really bulding anywhere, just washboard, if you get my drift. If you could answer me back id really appreciate it. Also, i am on the Gakic and Leukic stack with Muscle Milk… any recommendations, warnings, etc. about these specific products or any others for that matter? Thanks a million

  • Peter April 25, 2008, 7:02 pm

    Hi Mark, I am falling in love with your workouts and diets, etc. However, im not sure if this is the right workout for me. Not sure of my body fat percentage, but i have a pretty good gut going on, but the rest of my body is in fairly good shape. What are 5 things i can do on top of this workout to not to build more muscle on my abs, but to shred away that extra body fat? Thank you!

  • chris May 6, 2008, 2:55 am

    this has been confusing me,
    im 13, yeah young.
    but i want want to learn.
    ive been told that training one muscle a day is stupid, you dont get anything done, blah blah blah.
    and some people say that you cant have one contiuous workout forever, otherwise your body gets to used to it, and your supposed to ‘shock’ your body so to speak.
    and i really want to get bigger and ive been doing mainly full body exersises and alternating days, but i want a good strong plan to get bigger, not huge, but like a typical highschool-colledge football or lacrosse player thats not on steroids.
    i would highly appreciate it if you send it to me in an email.

    but i think im going to use this for now.
    i love the site. hope you keep at it.

  • DavidRM May 8, 2008, 4:55 am


    I’ve been following this workout since the beginning of the year. That’s 4 months (minus 2 weeks due to sickness). I can assure you that 3 months is enough to see noticeable gains.

    Here are the keys I’ve found:

    1. Keep track of your workout. How much weight, and how many reps. Every set you do. I didn’t do this my first 3 weeks, and I kick myself for it.

    2. Increase your protein intake, and decrease your carb intake. I didn’t change my diet until a handful of weeks ago. Again, I could kick myself. I saw good results even before then, but mostly just definition and tone, some reduction of the waistline. Since I adjusted my diet, though, I’ve put on weight in my shoulders and chest (which is exactly where I wanted it), and still seeing some waistline reduction.

    Don’t expect miracles. But follow Mark’s advice, keep up the workouts, keep your form good, and, yeah, you’ll see good results in 3 months.


  • TeeJay May 14, 2008, 2:22 am

    If you would’ve caught me back in high school, i’d be the guy in the gym that’s just playin around, i was never ever serious about working out. I’m 23 now, and joined the Air Force a couple of years ago and i decided it was time to start something and make myself look good and healthier. So I have been going strong on this plan for about 2.5-3 months strong. I think I was around 170-175lbs when i started, i weighed myself last night and i was sitting at a cool 188lbs. I’m diggin everything except my abs, more so my obliques, i have a little bit of love handles that i want to get rid of. Everything else looks pretty good from my stand point and a number of other people. Everyone i see is always giving me good compliments. Thanks for the workout plan Mark.

  • Mark McManus May 14, 2008, 8:22 pm

    Thanks for the feedback TeeJay.
    You’re making great progress. Would like an excerpt of your comment to go into the testimonial section?

  • TeeJay May 16, 2008, 2:06 am

    Not a problem with me, go for it! I was sort of skeptical about the whole not being in the gym for hours on end and still getting good results. A lot of people were looking at me sideways when i was going into the gym and getting my sets in, and i’d be out before an hour was up. i think it’s pretty safe to say they’re not saying it anymore, lol!

  • Chris May 20, 2008, 3:04 am

    would it be okay if you changed the days in the workout plan,
    so like
    friday-back and abs.

    or does it half to be that way?

    so far i love it

  • Mark McManus May 20, 2008, 3:28 pm

    That’s fine Chris.

  • rich May 20, 2008, 5:48 pm

    Mark! thank you! i used to be able to do one or two pull ups struggling… i started this workout maybe a month and a half ago and i just jumped on my bar a minute ago and on my first one i went up so easliy i hit my head on the ceiling and cranked out 15 no problem…. this workout works, hands down. The best one i have ever used. I am noticing amazing results, along with a great cardio plan i have my stomach is losing its padding and becoming cut and by the end of the summer i am going to be in the shape i have always wanted but never knew how to achieve… thank you so much! you’re free plan is changing my life for the better, my ego is up, my body is healthy, and my outlook is bright. THANKS!!

  • Mark McManus May 20, 2008, 5:56 pm

    The pleasure’s all mine buddy.
    I love helping people out and it’s especially great when a little bit of gratitude comes back my way.
    You’re right, this workout plan works incredibly well. It’s great to see an increasing number of people discover it.
    Rich, would you like your comment to go into the testimonial section of the site? If so, can you let me know what country or city you’re from.
    Enjoy your new body! :)

  • Clay May 20, 2008, 8:26 pm

    Question for rich…

    just curious to know what your doing for cardio along with this work out plan?


  • rich May 20, 2008, 11:18 pm

    well i have found that cross training is vital for improvement so your body doesnt get used to any one machine or activity. It varies every week as i have started doing bike rides, and swimming and rock climbing as part of my cardio work outs. But today for instance, i do ten minutes of INTENSE biking, and get off wait a minute or so and get a sip of water and then get onto the stair stepper. I stay there for 5 minutes as hard as i can to maintain my heart rate and copious sweating. After that, another minute break and sip of water, and its onto the cross trainerr (moving hands and feet thing) for another 5 minutes as hard as i can go… then i get on the treadmill for 10-15 minutes and make sure i get at least 200 calories burned or run 1.5 miles…whichever comes first

  • chris May 24, 2008, 4:30 am

    great workout plan once again im noticing gains especially in my arms and starting to in my chest.
    but just a question for future reference
    what happens when you get the size you want.
    what would you recommend to shape the muscle
    and should i be eating more.
    or less?
    cause im trieng to cut the majority of junk-food and sodas out.
    but ive got about an average body type with a little muscle

  • ron June 2, 2008, 5:43 pm

    I have just started this plan and the only thing i don,t understand is how many sets of each exercise should i do per day.Do i go at my own pace and build up the sets.
    Thanks for any comments

  • David June 2, 2008, 5:50 pm

    I have read your workout plan and all of the responses posted here. From what I can tell this sounds like an amazing plan that sounds like it would work. I’m 20 and worked out with some guys that spent a bunch of money on nano vapor and other materials like that but saw little improvement. My main question is what can I do to maintain my cardio since I do need pass a run portion of a physical test for the military. Also, where can I find this nutrition guide that you were speaking of ealier?

  • Stacey U. June 2, 2008, 10:16 pm
  • Stacey U. June 2, 2008, 10:21 pm


    I followed the plan that Mark detailed above for each day. For example, on Monday I do 4 sets of Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press, 3 sets of Flies, and 2 sets of Dumbbell Front Raises. Keep in mind that before each set, I do a warm-up of the set at a reduced weight.

  • Darren June 5, 2008, 2:38 am


    I really enjoy the program but I’m finding it very difficult to maintain a 5 day workout program (it’s difficult to make it a priority with other obligations/extra curricular activities scheduled). So I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to condense it to a 3 or 4 day per week workout plan, while still hitting the target muscle groups and 45 minute limit.

  • Luay June 5, 2008, 12:18 pm

    Hi Mark! I’m new to the program and saw that you put Tri/Chest right after Biceps. I’ve always tried to put a day between tris and bis so that soreness/fatigue doesn’t impede the second workout. What do you think? Can I simply switch legs and Tris/Chest days?

  • DavidRM June 5, 2008, 5:25 pm


    I re-arranged the workout, and my bicep day follows my chest/tricep day. I’ve never noticed any issues with tricep fatigue interfering with the bicep workout.

    In fact, I totally re-arranged the workout. Here’s the order I do them:


    There was a period a few weeks in where the shoulders workout seemed to have an impact on the chest/triceps workout. But that no longer seems to happen.

    Just thought I’d mention my own experiences.


  • Pazl June 9, 2008, 7:34 pm

    Why 1.5 to 2 min rests between sets? Doesn’t most research indicate that 20 sec to 1 min rests between sets triggers explosive GH production as compared to longer rest periods? I thought longer rests are only for lifting heavy (85%-95% 1 rep max range) so the nervous system can recover. Why rest so long when you are not taxing your nervous system so much at these 8-12 rep ranges?

  • Mark McManus June 11, 2008, 7:48 pm

    Rest periods below 1 minute have been shown to reduce the amount of power that the muscles can generate in the following set.
    You should train in the maximum hypertrophy range where you reach failure between 8 and 12 reps. 1.5 to 2 mins rest allows for adequate rest to provide maximum results in the following set.
    Longer rest periods are not shown to be any more beneficial so around 2 mins is optimal. 1.5 minutes for smaller muscles, 2 or even 2.5 mins for bigger compound exercises like squats.

  • danny June 15, 2008, 11:18 pm

    alright ive been using this plan since may 6th and havent seen alot of gains.
    is this normal?

  • Mark McManus June 16, 2008, 4:41 am

    Well, that’s 6 weeks so you can’t expect massive changes but yes you should have made muscle gains by now. Remember you have to be objective i.e. take body measurements. Also, make sure your form is great on each and every set.

  • Chris Brian June 18, 2008, 12:41 pm

    Hi Mark,

    I’ve been following your plan for the past 4-5 weeks and I’m really pleased with the progress I’ve made. For the first time I’m starting to see real gains, particularly on my shoulders and biceps.

    I was sceptical at first as I’ve used most of the above exercises at one time or another with no results but after reading your advice and the responses of other posters I decided to commit to this programme.

    For me there’s been 3 key reasons why it’s worked:

    Firstly, it’s re-motivated me to get more high qualtiy protein into my diet to fuel my gym exertions, using both Whey Protein shakes/bars and upping the fish/egg content of my meals.

    Secondly, your message of making every rep count has really hit home. I’m doing less sets and less reps (and getting out of the gym quicker!) but concentrating on my form and progressively overloading my muscles. Previously I’d rush to get sets done, sacrificing my form and using weights that didn’t challenge my muscles because I knew I had so many sets to do. Now I work really hard to make every rep matter.

    Thirdly, and probably the most important of the three reasons has been resting for 1.5-2mins between sets and I can’t over-estimate what a revelation this has been for me.
    I’m 5ft 19in, 167lbs and used to rest 30secs max between sets, I could feel the strength drain out of me at the start of the second set and I’m certain this contributed to a shoulder injury that stopped me weight training for 18 months. Now, whilst my muscles feel worked after the 1st set, they are ready to give their all for the 2rd & 3rd sets because of the rest I’ve given them.

    My next steps are to start recording my workouts and forward planning my next ones. I’ve just put together my own workout journal and I see this helping me to continue my gains over the coming weeks.

    Thanks for all your help!

    Chris, UK

  • Chris Brian June 18, 2008, 12:43 pm

    Sorry, that should’ve said 5ft 10in!
    Chris, UK

  • Morgan NYC June 18, 2008, 4:01 pm

    Hey there,

    I’m going to be starting your plan this week once classes are over, but my only question was how do I choose which amount of weight to use? I 5’10, 170lbs. Also, could anyone direct me to a link for a solid diet/nutritional plan to use in conjunction with this program? I apologize if these questions have already been answered, but I’m at school and my computer time is limited! Thanks in advance

  • Paul D June 18, 2008, 11:07 pm

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for this website. It’s great to see solid and useful information handed out and explained for free, especially with so many of us newcomers to exercise eager to learn and take the right approach.

    I’ve been through all the gimmick programmes, a few set for me by my gym instructors and some I’ve read in books – I’ve found if I put on muscle I get fat too, and if I do the cardio to get lean, I lose muscle – much like you described happening to yourself in the past.

    I’m now at the end of the first week of this programme and so far, so good – just finding the right weights and concentrating on proper form. I’ll let you know how I’m getting on in a month or too.

    My only concern is being able to shed a little weight from the stomach – I’m not fat, but would like to get rid of what is there. I’m worried about eating too much, but also getting enough calories, carbs and protein each day to make the workouts effective. I wonder if you have any tips on this?

    Once again, thank you very much.

    Paul D in the UK

  • B June 19, 2008, 1:44 am

    Hey Mark,
    I’m curious,I like the structure of your workout.It cuts out all the crap. My friend and I are arguing about the whole switching up the routine thing, because I have been doing this workout for quite some time and enjoying benefits and making little adjustments depending on weakspots and so on(fitness model here). But my friend insists that I should change my entire workout every 6 weeks. Is this absolutely necessary? Other than adjusting the weights and when I do the exercises…this program seems to work and doesn’t have me doing any nonsense exercises. Thanks Mark.

  • Stacey Upson June 19, 2008, 4:30 am

    Because you’re doing progressive overload each week, you are in essence changing the workout. I can’t remember where, but I remember reading somewhere on Marks’ site that there is no need to change workouts if you are seeking progressive overload each week and making every rep count.

  • Mark McManus June 19, 2008, 4:47 am

    @ Chris Brian. Great to hear about your results! Yes the rest between sets is so important for peak performance at the gym. You’ll see even more improvements when you start keeping logs – you need to know on each set what your target reps is going to be, this gives you a psychological edge. Hey Chris, do you want your comments to be added to the testimonial section?
    @ Morgan. It’s trial and error to begin with. Pick a weight and just go for it. Make a note of what rep you fail on, then adjust to ensure that next time it’s somewhere between 8 and 12 reps. See favorite links in sidebar for 2 diets I recommend.
    @ Paul. I have an article planned for next week that will tell you how to use MANS to build muscle and lose fat at the same time. It’s slower than actively pursuing fat loss as a priority like I explain in my book but it can be done.
    @ B. If you’re progressing and seeing gains, changing is futile and may be counterproductive. At 6 weeks, you are just starting to see ongoing weekly progression, it’s not a good idea to start switching things up. Consider 12 weeks a minimum for this, but changes should be in type of exercise (e.g. barbell curls instead of EZ bar), order of exercises, changing days, using barbells more and less dumbbells – not a totally different plan.

  • Mark McManus June 19, 2008, 4:51 am

    Thanks Stacey. The whole ‘you must change things’ is based upon the idea that the body stops responding to the same workouts over time. However, with this plan, you actually don’t give the body a chance to do that as you continually place it under ever-increasing demand over time.

  • Chris Brian June 19, 2008, 7:14 am

    Hi Mark,

    Very happy for my comments to be added to the testimonial section, I’m sure it’ll give me added motivation.